One year ago, as 2016 began, I was a very unhappy Yank. After Christmas cancer surgery, I was starting treatment with a pretty grim prognosis, and I thought I’d permanently blown my dream of a pilgrimage to the Blue Mecca of Goodison Park, which all good Evertonians must make at least once in their lives. (TW contributor Pat Finegan calls it the Everton Hajj.) In 30 years as a Blue, I’d always intended to get there someday, but it looked like someday was already gone.

Well, I have another chance. As 2017 begins, I’m still on the upside of the grass, as a friend put it. In fact, I’m feeling so good I expect to be back on the pitch for my men’s open league team this spring (not bad to be 60 and still cutting out crosses from teenagers!).

So no more waiting. Goodison here I come. I have air tickets from Oregon to Heathrow for April 6, with the intent of seeing the home games against Leicester and Burnley on April 8 and 15. Of course, by then these will be two crucial games in our stunning comeback battle for Champions League places.

I’d love to meet up with some of the good folk of TW, with whom I’ve celebrated and commiserated and debated through these past ten years, for the pregame ritual and the game itself. (Somebody will have to teach me the songs – I know one stanza of It’s A Grand Old Team but haven’t picked up the others from TV.)

I’d welcome suggestions on good areas to stay in town, and also on things to do around the country during the intervening week, especially scenic train trips.

It’s my only chance, so this will be the trip of a lifetime.... even if by chance we're not yet challenging for the top 4. COYB!

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